Private insurer access to general practice back on agenda

Dr Richard Bartlett (PhD), first assistant secretary at the department of health, confirmed in Senate estimates proceedings this week that his team had given advice on changes to services covered by private health insurance. 

However, when pressed on whether it was about allowing private health insurers to cover primary care, Dr Bartlett said he could not be specific. 

“I was asked to provide a comment about whether advice had been provided on primary care and private health insurance. I said I had. That is all I said. It went no further and I can go no further,” he said.

The National Health Act and Private Health Insurance Act currently ban private insurers from reimbursing members for GP services. 

Health Minister Peter Dutton has repeatedly indicated that he supports exploring plans to extend private insurance into primary care, but Greens senator Richard Di Natale told MO he was concerned.